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4 tips to keep food safe during your summer celebrations

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Essential barbecue chicken
With July Fourth approaching, here are some key tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stay safe as you prep and cook food outside.
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Minnesotans love to cook outdoors in the summer. But where your raw burgers go, salmonella and norovirus can follow.

So federal officials are reminding grillers and potato salad lovers to stay vigilant this summer when it comes to foodborne illness, which can cause serious health problems and even death. 

With July Fourth approaching, here are some key tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stay safe as you prep and cook food outside. For more information, visit USDA's "Ask Karen" site or call the department's meat and poultry hotline at 888-674-6854 weekdays between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

1) Keep your cool

When preparing and cooking food, keep perishable foods either cool or hot and outside of the "danger range" of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Wash your hands!

Just like mom told you. Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and dry with a clean towel. Then wash your hands again after handling raw meat or poultry to prevent cross-contamination.

3) Bring the heat

Check your cooking temperatures with a food thermometer. Poultry, whether ground or whole, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, while ground meats should be cooked to 160 degrees. 

Whole meats like beef, pork, lamb and veal, should have an internal temperature of 145 degrees and rest for three minutes after. Fish should also reach 145 degrees internally.

4) Pack it away

Once everyone has had their fill, don't leave food out. Any prepared food should be refrigerated within two hours — one hour if temperatures are at or above 90 degrees. If you're not sure how long it's been out, USDA food safety guidelines suggest throwing the food out.